Your Holiday Reading List: Strategy, Inspiration and Management Insights
The new year is just around the corner, so now is the perfect time to stop and reflect on your goals and the next steps you plan to take. With that in mind, I’ve put together a motivational reading list of 5 of my all-time favorite blog posts.
With the holidays upon us, it’s that time of year where you get to take a break and feel proud of what you’ve accomplished.
You’ve certainly earned it.
It’s also a great time to reflect about whether you’re on track with your goals so far. And whether there’s anything you might want to change – or improve – in the coming year.
To give you a head start, I have come up with a shortlist of some of my most favorite articles.
There are several managerial lessons that I feel are so essential that I decided to create a “holiday reading list” to help you gear up in 2023.
So go ahead and grab a warm mug of your favorite holiday beverage, find a cozy spot, and let’s dive right in.
#1 What is Flow and How Can I Measure It?
What does the concept of flow look like and what are the metrics for it? Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“When your customers make a request, there is a process that you will follow in order to achieve the delivery of that request. Essentially, flow in knowledge work is the movement of the requests through your process.”
“And our ultimate goal is to optimize flow so that we can improve the way each piece of customer value moves through our system so that it can be delivered to our clients in a more efficient, predictable manner.”
When you think of flow, think of the last time you were in an airport. There’s a whole process for getting through security: show your passport, walk up to the conveyor belt, put your items on the belt, walk through the scanner, then pick up your items on the other end. Any delay with each of these steps slows down the whole process (as I’m sure you’ve experienced yourself while traveling).
In a similar fashion, flow is moving a customer’s request through a process of steps. And in order to ensure that you deliver results in a consistent predictable manner (rather than getting sidetracked and bogged down like you might at airport security), you need the right metrics in place. These metrics determine how efficient your system is.
#2 Your Board Design Can Make or Break Your Team Performance and Here Is Why
You know the old saying, “it’s all about perspective”? Nowhere does this apply more than in project management. From the article:
“Ultimately, achieving sustainable predictability begins with a shift in your perspective from managing your workers to managing the work itself. And the approach you use to visualize your work has the potential to make or break your improvement efforts.”
How you choose to visualize the work on your board affects the way your team members will perceive it. And the way they see it will affect their decisions – not just consciously, but also subconsciously.
Think about it: if the columns on your board represent specialties, it becomes natural for each team member to focus on “their column,” “their specialty,” and “their work.”
But as a manager, you want your team to work as a team, rather than each worker holed up in their own lane.
#3 How to Turn Daily Meetings into Outcome-Driven Events
Your daily meetings are an important part of your managerial rituals. That’s why you want to make the most of them. Here’s an excerpt:
“When we perceive our daily call as a status update meeting and ask people, what’s the status of their work every day, the interfering spark of micromanagement starts to build. Slowly, but surely.”
“The team’s engagement and motivation levels go down and with it, the daily call starts to feel like another thing that’s distracting people from doing their work.”
“So, you should ask yourself, “Is a status update appropriate in the first place?
Your Kanban board is your ultimate source of truth for checking the progress of your workflows – not your daily calls.
Imagine how much time it would take if you spent each meeting asking each team member about the status of their work – trust me, it adds up fast. What’s more, no manager wants to feel like they’re looking over someone else’s shoulder.
That’s not what the purpose of your daily meeting is. On the contrary, the main goal here is to move your focus from your workers to the work itself and start managing it effectively.
#4 Why You Need Probabilistic Forecasting as a Manager
If you’re not using probabilistic forecasting, make 2023 your year to start. From the article:
“Probabilistic forecasting changes the game because it’s fast, cheap and most importantly reliable.”
“The more predictable your delivery system is, the more reliable probabilistic forecasts it will produce.”
“You’re effectively taking out the guesswork and you’re managing risks effectively. You are empowered to choose which outcome makes the most sense for you, based on the % of risk you’re willing to live with.”
I’m a passionate believer in using probabilistic forecasting. Why? Because this approach gets us closer to what will actually happen in the future.
Alas, magic crystal balls unfortunately don’t exist and knowledge work is notoriously tricky.
In my opinion, probabilistic forecasting is the next best thing because it allows you to come up with multiple outcomes (based on your own past data) with the % likelihood of each one becoming a reality.
You can never know 100% whether you will be able to meet a deadline. But knowing that you have an 85% likelihood of delivering before date X compared to, say, an 80% likelihood of delivering before date Y empowers you and your teams to decide how much risk you’re comfortable with.
#5 How to Enable a Stable Delivery System in 2 Easy Steps
Even with the best strategies in the world, you won’t get far without a stable system. Here’s a sneak peek from the article:
“The main requirement to producing reliable probabilistic forecasts is to enable a stable delivery system. In fact, if you don’t maintain a stable system, nothing will work. You’d be better off buying a pair of dice and rolling them. You would have the same probability of achieving your goals.”
How’s that for perspective?
You may wonder, “what exactly is a stable system?”
Answer: it’s a delivery system that enables you to make reliable data-driven decisions and produces accurate probabilistic forecasts. In other words, it’s a system that helps you deliver results consistently (and no, you don’t need to have items of the same size to make this work!)
And the good news is, it’s not hard to set up. In fact, you can get started in just two steps!
Putting It All Together
Put all these concepts together, and you have a strong foundation for achieving big results in 2023.
And if you’re ready to take it a step beyond that, now is the perfect time to check out our Sustainable Predictability program. This course will show you exactly how to manage your workflow so that you get predictable results that enable you to deliver your work on time, every time.
Better yet, you can check it out with no obligations – you can get a sneak peek of the first module free for 7 days, to make sure it’s right for you.
I hope this holiday reading list inspired and motivated you for how to meet your goals in 2023. If you know a fellow manager who would also find this reading list helpful, please share it with them on your favorite social media platform.
In the meantime, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all the rest! Please enjoy your time off to the fullest and stay in touch. I’ll still be here every week as always, same time, same place.
Meet the Author
Sonya Siderova is a passionate product manager and a driving force behind Nave, a Kanban analytics suite that helps teams improve their delivery speed through data-driven decision making. When she's not catering to her two little ones, you might find Sonya absorbed in a good heavyweight boxing match or behind a screen crafting a new blog post.